A set of court filings this week has provided a picture of what it's like for inmates inside a federal prison in New Jersey as the fear of the spread of coronavirus grows.
The inmate's experiences this week describe how prisons could be a petri dish for the virus.
James Davis, a 69-year-old serving a 10-year prison term for white collar fraud in Pennsylvania, asked on Tuesday to be released from prison because of the potential threat to his health.
Davis highlighted for the appeals court how much he's in contact with more than 100 other inmates inside the federal prison in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and how the prison has lacked providing cleaning products and soap.
The court denied Davis' release on Friday, noting he could ask again if he tests positive for novel coronavirus.
Davis' lawyer told the court that conditions in the federal prison, his age and history of asthma, heart problems, high blood pressure and other issues put him at "severe risk of death from the coronavirus pandemic."
In a court filing on Tuesday, Davis' team described the situation within the low-security prison which included inmates sitting together for meals and sharing a bathroom and common spaces. The filing also claimed inmates aren't given soap or cleaning products.
"At two large town-hall-style gatherings with all 100+ inmates in the hall together, inmates were informed that the prison plans to make handsoap available in the restrooms in the future and, in the meantime, inmates were encouraged to use whatever soap they had available individually to wash their hands and wipe surfaces," Davis' lawyers wrote. "During the town hall gathering, prison officials admitted that it was not an ideal situation because they were unable to comply with (since superseded) CDC guidance for avoiding groups of 50."
Prosecutors countered that Davis shouldn't be released because he's not in any unique circumstance compared to others. They also explained to the court that "the Bureau of Prisons is taking aggressive steps to mitigate risk from Covid-19."
What we know: The Bureau of Prisons is screening new inmates for symptoms and may screen staff. Prisons have also barred visitors and limited the movements of inmates, prosecutors wrote.
The Bureau of Prisons says it has no confirmed cases of the virus among inmates or staff, though a staff member in Texas is being tested and one in New Hampshire has a presumptive diagnosis based on flu-like symptoms.
Davis has been in prison since May 2019.